Archival Collection

Media-related Ephemera in the University of Rochester’s Trove of Suffrage Material

University of Rochester. "Library acquires unknown Susan B. Anthony letters found in old barn." March 29, 2017.

Era: Suffrage Era | Media: Letters, Web-based

In March 2017, the University of Rochester acquired a number of never-before-seen letters, ephemera, and other documents sent to and collected by Isabella Beecher Hooker, a lecturer and activist who fought for women’s suffrage.

The letters, discovered in an attic, include missives authored by suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These letters, as well as newspaper clippings, petitions, resolutions, are digitized here.

The University of Rochester explained more about the documents in a press release:

A recently discovered trove of letters, speeches, petitions, photographs, and pamphlets—forgotten for a century in attics, barns, and on porches—now opens a window onto the quotidian details of that historic movement. Originally owned by suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker, the collection includes dozens of letters from fellow movement leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The collection has now found a new home in the University of Rochester’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation (RBSCP).

Part of a notable family of reformers, Hooker was the daughter of the Reverend Lyman Beecher and a half-sister of social reformer and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, educator Catharine Beecher, and novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe.

TIME magazine published  one of the discovered letters from Anthony and Stanton.

But it is not only letters contained in this trove. The collection includes newspaper articles and resolutions on women’s suffrage.

One of the documents in the collection is an 1871 resolution adopted by the Republican State Convention of Massachusetts. The resolution demands the right to vote for “all law-abiding, tax-paying American citizens, and will hail the day when the educated intellect and enlightened woman finds direct expression at the ballot box.” Read the resolution here.

A January 1872 newspaper article from The National Republican, available here, reports on a thousand women from Albany, New York who came to the U.S. Senate to protest “against female suffrage.”

Another document from 1872 (seen here), addressed to the “editors of the United States,” invites the media to publish pro-suffrage arguments in the aftermath of the U.S. Senate refusing to hear from them in person and not printing their arguments alongside a Senate document against suffrage.

Other documents that are not digitized, but can be found in person, are detailed here. They include a leaflet that “calls for the women journalists covering the Centennial Exposition to be properly recognized and allowed to practice journalism,” and a “letter to the editor like article from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Victoria Woodhull.”

For more information, read this New York Times article on the recently discovered documents, or watch a video produced by the university below.

To learn how to access this archival collection in person, click here .  You can access digitized copies of documents here.

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